Supervisor Elham AbolFateh
Editor in Chief Mohamed Wadie

Egypt Hosts AML/CFT Conference on Art, Antiquities Criminality at Civilization Museum

Wed 15 Jun 2022 | 01:41 PM
Ali Abu Dashish

The Egyptian Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Khaled El-Anani participated in the opening session of the first regional conference on “Anti-Money Laundering/Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT), concerning art and antiquities crimes.

The conference was organized by the Anti-Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Unit in Egypt in cooperation with the European Union (EU) at the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization in Fustat, in the presence of a number of specialized experts and academics in the field of heritage and cultural property, antiquities looting and law enforcement from around the world.

The minister pointed to the unprecedented interest that the Egyptian state attaches to increasing and deepening awareness of the value of its cultural heritage.

In recent years, the country allocated an unprecedented budget to the field of antiquities and museums, where a number of museums were opened, such as the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization and the construction of the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM), as well as a number of other museums which have been restored, and maintained.

The minister stressed that the illegal trade in cultural property is one of the most important challenges facing Egypt, as are many countries with ancient civilizations in the world.

"It is not a secret to anyone that the art and antiquities market, besides being a arena for the illicit circulation of cultural property, is also an ideal place for money laundering, noting that according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), that market witnesses the circulation of counterfeit business brings in billions of dollars annually, and is operated by organized gangs." "A large part of this money is based on money laundering and other financial crimes."

The minister indicated that the state has enacted laws that would work to protect and preserve antiquities, imposing heavy penalties and large financial fines on anyone who possessed, acquired or sold an antiquity or part of the illegal business outside Egypt.

Anani added that Egypt has signed several bilateral agreements and memoranda of understanding with many EU countries, Arab countries and countries from North and Latin America in the field of combating antiquities smuggling.

He pointed out that the country's succeeded over recent years in recovering thousands of artifacts and coins from Italy, France, Spain, England, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Austria, Denmark and Cyprus, and from Arab countries such as Lebanon, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and countries from the Americas, including Canada, Mexico and the United States.

"Perhaps one of the most prominent examples is the success, in cooperation with law enforcement agencies in the U.S., in recovering golden sarcophagus of the Pharaonic priest, Nedjemankh, which had been purchased with forged identification papers, and which is now displayed in the museum, inviting the audience to go to the main hall and watch it.

The minister thanked the governments of all countries for their good cooperation with Egypt to recover its smuggled antiquities, praising what Germany had done in 2017 in introducing an amendment to its national law that would place the burden of proof on the holder of antiquities and not on the country of origin, a huge positive step in this field.

Finally, the minister appealed to all concerned countries to follow Germany's example in combating smuggling and trafficking in cultural property.